Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Chocolate Pie

Today should be interesting.  It's Thanksgiving.  Otherwise known as Jen loosing her flipping mind in the kitchen day.  We go to my sister's for dinner & I bring desert.  Every year, I spend Thanksgiving day standing in the kitchen, listening to Alice's Restaurant on repeat while throwing things & crying.  I tend to over bake, as in making way too many deserts, and between my natural inability to cook, the dogs' help and the family trying to sneak tastes, things never go well.  I can literally only remember two out of the past twenty years that I haven't cried in the kitchen on a holiday baking day.  (Yes, we go through it again at Christmas except there are Christmas carols playing instead of Alice's Restaurant.)  I don't even know why I put myself, the dogs & the family through it except that it's tradition.  I like tradition.

So today, I am thankful for my paternal side of the family's chocolate pie recipe.  It's an Owen holiday tradition.  For those of you who are local, it tastes just like a Ukrops chocolate pie.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the Ukrops either stole the recipe from the Owens or the two families share DNA.  For the non-locals you'll just have to trust me.  It's delicious!  My dad helped me update the recipe.  The original recipe is so old that it refers to baking it in a wood fueled oven.  Thus, the cooking time is not exact.  If you decide to make it, definitely bake it based on the "until the center is firm" directions & don't automatically follow the suggested cooking time.

Owen Chocolate Pie

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 rounded TBS cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (real butter, not margarine)
  • 1/2 cup light cream OR evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Beat the eggs well in a large bowl.  Sift into them the combined sugar, cocoa & salt.  Blend well.  Add melted butter, cream & Vanilla & blend well.  Pour into pie shell & bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until center is firm.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For your enjoyment, here's a look back at the Owen's 1980 version of Thanksgiving.  I like the good china, Mom's prized silver rimmed crystal goblets and the plastic Tupperware salt shaker.  And the stack of junk piled up in the background.  Classy, Mom!

Well, I'm off to get my holiday tradition started.  I'll be in the kitchen, dropping bowls full of sticky, hard to clean up, expensive ingredients on the floor, watching the dog jump up & grab entire cooling pies off the tallest pieces of furniture we own, yelling at the family to stop eating the cookies and possibly even starting a fire or two.  It's tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A little too country

I am so thankful for the country life style that my husband dragged me into kicking & screaming some 22 years ago.  I grew up in the city and considered my self a city girl.  The only bug I knew was lightening bugs & grasshoppers.  I could walk to the grocery store.  I could parallel park just as easily as I could pull into a shopping mall parking space.  I can even whip my car into a tiny space on the left side of the street and that takes skill!

But as I said, my husband is a born & bred country boy and he moved me to the country.  When we first moved here, the closest stoplight was 18 miles away.  There was no 911 out here in the boondocks & while fire department had a local phone number, if we needed to call the rescue squad it was long distance.  It took me an hour, mostly on the interstate, to drive to work each morning.  The closest grocery store was 30 minutes away.  There was wildlife.  Real wildlife!  Not just more types of bugs than I'd ever imagined but real critters!  Raccoons, possum, deer, fox, an occasional bobcat and even a bear.  A bear!

Luckily for my husband, the bear didn't come into existence, at least my existence, until about five years ago.  Long after I'd adjusted to the idea of wildlife.  But the point of this is that I have adjusted to living among the wildlife & to this country living lifestyle.  I love living out here in the middle of nowhere.  I love that 9 out of 10 cars you pass will wave to you.   I love that four cars at the stoplight is considered a traffic jam.  I'm not crazy about the fact that we now have a stoplight, two in fact (about 5 miles apart,) but I am thankful for their help in crossing the road.  Because we have to cross the road to get to the grocery store.  And the liquor store.  We have a grocery & liquor store now!

Can I even consider myself still living in the country if we have two stoplights and a liquor store?  I think I can.  And I'll tell you why.  The country (as opposed to the city) has it's own electric company.  It's a cooperative & it provides electricity to a very large, spread out area & they do a fine job providing said electricity.  They are fantastic about keeping our power on & getting it turned back on quickly after storms.  But how I really know that we are still living in the country is because the power cooperative puts out a monthly newsletter/magazine thing.  This magazine has a recipe section.   One of this month's recipes was for barbecued raccoon.  Yep.  It's official.  We live in the country.  And I'm thankful for it.  Not the recipe, but the lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He'll pay for that

It should be legal to kill your spouse for certain infractions.  Infractions like hiding yarn catalogs.  I go out into the garage to look for something & start digging through the miscellaneous garbage stuff my husband has stored on the shelves & what do I find?  Numerous yarn catalogs.  Yarn catalogs stuffed behind buckets of nails & boxes of light bulbs!  The $@^%$$# man has gotten the mail & stuffed my yarn catalogs in out of the way places so I won't see them!  What the bloody h-e-double hockey sticks??  He is SO going to pay for that!

And before you ask, he didn't just throw them away because he's incapable of putting anything in the trash.  Anything!  Dirty napkins, empty chip bags, pizza boxes.... they all get put on the counter beside the trash can instead of in the trash can.  Drives me freaking nuts!  He is SO going to pay!

But let's talk knitting.

As I mentioned the other day, the Antler hat is finished & looks to be perfect.  Which is pretty amazing considering how many times I had to tink those damn cables.  They were super easy cables but for some reason, I had a hard time counting.  Repeatedly.  I'm blaming it on Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. on Netflix because really, I can count to eight.  Normally.

Btw, is it still "tinking" when it's cables?  It doesn't become "selbacing" does it?  It sort of felt like it.  Tinking cables is a royal pain in the rear.

The next secret project hat was going to be another cabled one but I got lazy & didn't feel like gauge swatching.  Imagine that.  Me not wanting to check for gauge.  That never happens.  Anyway, I wanted texture that I didn't have to swatch so it's simply 3 x 3 rib with the ribs changed up every six rows which forms a rectangle pattern.  I haven't figured out how I'll do the decreasing yet.  It will be one of those make it up as I go things.

So, what am I thankful for today?  My dermatologist.  She always gives me lots of samples that would cost me hundreds of dollars at the pharmacy & she calls zits "Friday night cyclops."  Because in adults, they always pop up on Friday evenings just before some big function & they are always smack dab in the middle of your forehead.  I love my dermatologist.  Except when she insists that what I'm convinced is a cancer spot is an really just an old age spot.  I really don't appreciate being told I have old age spots.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Snow birds

My kitchen window looks out into the woods & normally when I look out, I'll see a bird or two, sometimes a squirrel.  Sometimes even a fox or deer passing by.  This morning, there are thousands of birds out there.  Thousands!  And not just one big flock, there are all different kinds of birds.  Little birds, big birds, birds on the ground, birds in the bushes and birds in all levels of the tree limbs.  Thousands & thousands of birds.  What my momma taught me was lots of birds like that this time of year meant snow was coming.

Mr. Weatherman keeps hinting at snow.  He'll make some big announcement like "Stay tuned for snow accumulation info" or "Snow accumulations possible for Wednesday, the worst travel day of the year."  When you actually stay tuned or click on the link, he starts talking about how it's going to start as rain & if conditions are just perfectly so, it will turn to snow &/or sleet late Wednesday night.  But then he'll ramble on a while about how low the chance of the conditions lining up just perfectly for snow is.  He says it's about a one billionth of 1% chance that it will actually snow.  And then he ends his forecast with a sentence or two about the possibility of light accumulation.

In other words, Mr. Weatherman has no freaking clue.  But those birds....

I guess I should head to the grocery store & stock up on bread, milk & toilet paper.  It's a southern tradition.

Let's be thankful....

I was planning to be thankful for the internet today.  Yes, I'll admit, at the beginning of the month I made a list of things I was thankful for to use in case of an emergency during the month.  An emergency being one of those days where about the only thing I can think of to be thankful for is that I haven't killed anyone today.  Yet.  You know those days.  Right?  I'm not the only one who has them, right?  Anyway.... Today's thankful thing if I couldn't think of anything else was the internet.  Which is interesting because before looking at my list, I was thinking how glad I am to have the internet.  How nice it is to be able to obsessively watch the weather forecast.  How easy it is for me to publicly complain about the weather here on the blog, on Facebook or even in the Etsy forums.  Are you old enough to remember life before Google?  I am.  Boy, it was tough.  You had to watch the birds if you wanted to make sure you had enough toilet paper.

And just so there's something to look at in this post, here's a random picture of Max.

Max says to tell you that I have finished the Antler hat & have started another secret project hat.  Photos to follow if the sun ever comes out.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I paused the gray & white surprise project & started knitting Tin Can Knits' Antler Hat.  It's going to be a Christmas gift but I think I'm safe talking about it here because I highly doubt the recipient reads my blog.  I'm not sure how to proceed though.  The pattern calls for one more pattern repeat (6 rows) yet the hat is already slightly too tall for Mr. Creepyhead.  The intended recipient does have a big head so I made my husband try it on because he's got a huge head.  If I start the decreases now, it would probably be a few rows too short for the spouse but six additional rows would probably make it slightly too tall.  I guess the decision will come down to how badly I want to be done with this project & move on to the next.

As for the gray & white surprise knitting project, it hasn't been moved into the abandoned UFO pile.  It's been moved to the Starbucks pile.  Every week night, my daughter has drivers' ed & the class is located 55 minutes from our house so I can't just drop her off, go home then come back for her.  I hang out in town & wait for her.  At first I was going to a nearby Barnes & Noble but that quickly became way too expensive.  Apparently, it is physically impossible for me to leave a bookstore without purchasing something.  Luckily, I discovered a Starbucks nearby & have been hanging out there every night.  Anyway, I figured knitting around & around & around on the gray & white surprise was better suited to knitting in public while reading & people watching than a cabled hat that I had to keep track of the row count & cable needle.

So, to bring this to a close....  I'm so thankful for the positive response I've received regarding my recent Walmart experience blog post.  It was a rather degrading experience & I wasn't sure if I should discuss it here or not.  The "I hate Walmart" anger got the best of me though & I hit Publish then cringed in fear over what response I'd receive.  Anyway, thank you for your kind words.

I think my fear of what your response would be gave me a mental blog block yesterday & I completely forgot to post what I was thankful for.  I'd planned to say Ravelry.  What a fantastic site!   I don't begin to use it properly.  Mostly, I just look for patterns & inspiration.  One of these days I'll remember to log in & record my projects & use the site the way it was meant to be used.  Meanwhile, if you want to meet me there & encourage me to participate more, I'm JeannieGrayKnits.  Look me up.

As for today's thankful thing, I'm oh so thankful for my friend Traci who encouraged me to join the Etsy community.  I'm also glad she knew the proper way to encourage me.  Instead of telling me it was something I should do, she made me go with her to a free How to Etsy seminar at the library.  Her claim was that she didn't want to go alone but she's smart.  She knew that as soon as I saw the possibilities, I'd be hooked.  So thanks, Traci.  You're the best & I hope you are feeling the virtual hugs coming your way.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Walmart Experience

So, we had a fun day at Walmart yesterday.  And by "fun" I mean I'm bouncing between livid & a Twilight Zone version of "OMG! Did that just happen?"  As I said, part of me is pretty damn irritated.  Part of me is totally creeped out and part of me is giggling over the experience.

So, what happened...

We were having a girls day out yesterday.  "We" being myself, my friend, my daughter & my friend's daughter.  We'd shopped a while, had lunch & ended up in Walmart because the girls wanted to look at makeup & us grownups needed a few groceries.  We entered the store, the girls went one way & us grownups went the other way.  Eventually the kids texted to say they were bored, lets meet and check out.

After checking out, as we were leaving the store, we were stopped by a man in baggy pants & a sweatshirt, not a Walmart uniform.  He wasn't wearing a name tag but he had one in his hand.  (Alex.  Alex from Walmart.  And since I had just learned about the Alex from Target phenomenon a few days before, it turned on my giggle switch.)  He mumbled something & at first I thought he was asking us to complete a survey or something.  Then it became clear that he was asking if the girls were our kids.  Next we were told we had to follow him to the office because the girls had done ...mumble, mumble, mumble something we couldn't understand.

What it all boiled down to was that Alex from Walmart had seen the girls pick up an item off the discount aisle & when he saw them a few aisles later, they didn't have the item in their hands anymore.  Therefore, they must have stolen it.  The girls explained that yes, they'd picked up the item then decided against buying it & put it back.  Alex from Walmart again mumbles his story about how the girls must have stolen it.  The girls gave their story.  Alex repeated his mumble, the girls repeated their story.  On & on this went.  Eventually my friend insisted on either speaking to the store manager or a police officer.  Conveniently for Alex from Walmart, neither was available.  Finally, he allowed us to leave with a mumbled, "we'll have to take your word for it."  No apology.  No understanding at all that someone might change their mind about buying something.  Not to mention this guy had apparently followed our girls around the store for almost an hour.  That just creeps me out.  And it upsets me that we were made to follow this guy, who wasn't wearing a uniform or a name tag into an out of the way office.

So, okay.  I realize that shoplifting is a problem, specially this time a year.  I realize that perhaps Walmart has under-cover employees looking for shoplifters.  I get that.  I even understand that they want to do their investigating in a back office out of the public's eye.  But I really do not appreciate being detained for more than 20 minutes because someone picked up an item then decided not to buy it.  Alex from Walmart did not see the girls shoplift.  Alex from Walmart was not wearing a name tag or uniform yet he expected  us to follow him into an out of the way office.  Alex from Walmart was not interested in looking to see if the girls had put the item back as they said.  Alex from Walmart didn't even seem interested in searching our girls.  In fact, I'm the one who did that and nope, no stolen merchandise.  Alex from Walmart didn't even seem to have a solution to the problem.  He just wanted to accuse us.  Repeatedly.

Anyway, the whole experience has left me ranting about Walmart.  Again.  I'm upset that the girls were accused of shoplifting simply because they chose not to buy an item & put it back.  I'm upset that Alex from Walmart apparently followed our girls around the store for quite a while without them noticing.  I'm upset with myself for following Alex from Walmart into that back office without fully understanding what he kept mumbling about.  I'm upset that there was no apology for accusing our girls for something they didn't do.  I'm upset that my daughter feels I don't trust her because I looked in her purse to make sure she didn't have the item in question.

 I have boycotted Christmas shopping at Walmart before & I am prepared to do it again.

So now, I'm off to calm myself down with some knitting.  And tease my daughter about going from jailbait to jailbird over night.

What am I knitting you ask?

The Flying Monkeys cowl is finished & has already been worn, thus the stray hair hanging off it.  Why is it that those stray hairs are never seen until you are about to publish the picture?

This is the new project but it's a secret so I won't be going into a lot of detail, not before Christmas at least.  Can you guess what it's going to be?


Edited for thankfulness.

Thinking about Walmart got me so worked up I forgot to be thankful.  And honestly, I'm so upset over the whole Walmart experience that I can't think thankful thoughts at the moment.  About all I can think of to be thankful for is that my daughter & I have the type of relationship where she can tell me, in a calm nontypical teen tantrum manner that I hurt her feelings for not totally trusting her & even considering that what Alex from Walmart accused her of might be true.  I hope she understands that my actions did not imply distrust, they were simply a bad reaction to a surreal, WTF moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

TBT & The Great American Smokeout

What happens when Throwback Thursday collides with The Great American Smokeout?

That.  That is just so attractive.

I am SO glad I quit smoking 23 years ago.

I know quitting isn't easy.  Believe me, I know!  But, please, if you smoke, give quitting some thought.  Do it not only for yourself but for your loved ones.  You won't regret it.